Friday, October 19, 2012

Mummies!

 What a turnout for our Cartooning Club last night! Normally, about 12 kids show up to talk comics, cartoons, draw stuff and watch some animation. Last month, there were 16 kids and last night, a whopping 24 kids! The big group made it a fun atmosphere as we jumped in drawing a cool creature for the Halloween season- the mummy! I then talked about Disney's "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (part two of the "Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad") and the real-life background of Washington Irving's classic. And then, we watched the classic cartoon with lots of laughs and chilling moments! Things were "wrapped up" (get it?) with the kids collaborating on a Halloween banner which now hangs in the children's area of the library!
An uncredited pic of a ghostly mummy and some friends!

An uncredited pic of a mummy with a boney sidekick!

Haley adds background, movement & depth to her mummy!

Uncredited picture of a very well proportioned mummy for a cartoon look!

Uncredited pic of a...zombie? Maybe if she were a mummy her foot wouldn't be broken!

Kaden shows fine line work/detail in this mummy drawing!
 The next Cartooning Club will meet Thursday, November 15 at 5:30! See you there!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Shakespeare in Comics

  I recently received a copy of The Tempest from Campfire Publishing, and a few pages I stopped. The dialogue I was reading was not Bill the Bard's own words. I was greatly disappointed and was going to do either a negative review of the book, or no review at all. I admit that reading Shakespeare's plays can at times be difficult. The language is different from today, and "William-I-am-NOT-Bacon-Shakespeare" did not include notes on how the actors should respond or how they should say things in the script. It was all implied in the words the characters would say and hear- easier 400 years ago when people were more familiar with that type of speech. That is what makes having Shakespeare presented in a visual format (like a play) exciting, because know the viewer hears the words with the emotion behind them. The viewer sees the gestures and postures that help convey the mood. It's easier to be sad, or to get a punchline. Thus, the reason for my disappointment. I wanted to see the illustrations bring Shakespeare's words to clarity, not read another version where someone has "modernized" the conversations. But this graphic novel was not intended for people who actually studied Shakespeare, or who enjoy watching the plays. This book is to spark an interest in reading in those who normally would not pick up a tome on Shakespeare for something to do for fun.
It's not quite Shakespeare's words, but it's close! Real close.
  Giving the book a second look, there is no problem witht he art. It has the signature style that is Campfire's, with the lines and colors coming from Amit Tayal and Manikandan. It is very good, technically solid artwork, but there is nothing there that has a Jack Kirby or Jim Lee "wow!" factor to it. Max Popov has reworked the dialogue, but he has made an effort to stay true to Shakespeare's words. I've seen versions of other plays like Romeo & Juliet where the dialogue has been modernized/dumbed-down to the point of, "Yo! Julie! Where you at?" "What Romeo? You know where I live!"
  This comes on the tails of several manga versions of Shakespeare's works being done, some trying to play the settings and costumes to the Victorian era, others going wild into characters that look like Dragonball Z fighters, or anthropomorphic creatures. I know why so many publishers have jumped on the Shakespearean bandwagon, and the there are a few reasons: 1) it's public domain (like most of the classics), so anyone can make these stories; 2) there is no need to stick to or even research source material- stage productions, movies, and graphic novels have put Shakespeare stories  into biker gangs, outer space, high school gyms and every place in between; 3) any changes to dialogue and story can be justified by the publisher as intending to bring classic literature to a new audience, creating a selling point to schools and parents who are afraid their kids won't read the classics without a lot of reworking and window dressing. The major problem I could see is trying to get your book to be the one everyone will buy. You are competing with several other companies who are selling their version of the story, too.

Stan Lee puts Romeo & Juliet into Mecha Sci-Fi!
 The lesson here is to look through these books yourself before buying them. Go to a comic shop, book store or library and see what these adaptations have to offer. Are you looking for satire, or a simplified version, or a serious take on these works- and does that book accomplish what you wanted?